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Page last updated at 13:58 GMT, Monday, 27 October 2008

Meeting to discuss Afghan border

By Charles Haviland
BBC News, Islamabad

Pakistani Army soldiers patrol on their tanks during a military operation against Islamic militants in Darra Adam Khel on September 29, 2008.
Pakistani troops are deployed against militants in tribal areas

A meeting to discuss the problems of the violent Pakistan-Afghanistan border is being held in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad.

The joint Pakistani-Afghan meeting is known as a mini-jirga - a smaller version of a jirga or council that met last year in the Afghan capital Kabul.

The meeting will continue discussing ways of promoting peace in the region.

Peace along the border has been elusive so far with rising militant raids from Pakistan into Afghanistan.

Missiles thought to be fired by the Americans from the Afghan side have also landed in Pakistani border regions and led to casualties.

Even away from the border, Pakistan's own Taleban are waging an internal insurgency.

It is hoped that the latest talks, in which 25 Pakistani and Afghan delegates will participate, will advance the slow process of trying to make peace through dialogue.

But dialogue will not be easy.

These delegations are led by senior government figures, not by people from the most troubled areas.

The Taleban in Afghanistan have reiterated that they are not interested in dialogue unless foreign troops leave the country.

And the violence is complex.

In Pakistan some tribes have taken up arms against the Taleban - some of them because they are sick of Taleban tactics, others because they are Shias victimised by the Sunni Taleban.

The Pakistani state, too, is giving ambiguous signals.

The army has been announcing military successes in one tribal area, Bajaur, and says its operation against militants will continue for many more months.

Yet parliament last week passed a resolution saying the military should work towards pulling out of the tribal areas.

One thing these delegates may agree on is the need to bring economic development to these places.

Yet with the militants blowing up schools and security still dismal, that is not an immediate prospect.



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